Hoyle, Sir Fred

Hoyle, Sir Fred
born June 24, 1915, Bingley, Yorkshire, Eng.
died Aug. 20, 2001, Bournemouth, Dorset

British mathematician and astronomer.

He was educated at the University of Cambridge, where he became a lecturer in 1945. Within the framework of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, Hoyle formulated a mathematical basis for the steady-state theory of the universe, making the expansion of the universe and the creation of matter interdependent. Controversy about the theory grew in the late 1950s and early '60s. New observations of distant galaxies and other phenomena supported the big-bang model and weakened the steady-state theory, which has since generally fallen out of favour. Though forced to alter some of his conclusions, Hoyle persistently tried to make his theory consistent with new evidence. He is known also for his popular science works and fiction.

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▪ 2002

      British astrophysicist (b. June 24, 1915, Bingley, Yorkshire, Eng.—d. Aug. 20, 2001, Bournemouth, Dorset, Eng.), was the foremost promoter of the “steady-state theory,” which holds that the universe is always expanding and that new matter is being continuously created to maintain a constant mean density in space. To his great consternation, however, Hoyle was forever associated with the term big bang, which he coined in the early 1950s as a term of derision to denigrate the opposing cosmological theory that the universe began in a sudden explosive expansion of matter and energy from a highly compressed primordial state. Hoyle never accepted the growing evidence in favour of the big-bang model, but in A Different Approach to Cosmology (2000), he submitted a modified “quasi-steady state” model in which an infinite universe expands and contracts over time. Hoyle studied mathematics at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and, after working on military radar development during World War II, returned to Cambridge, where he was a mathematics lecturer (1945–58), Plumian Professor of Astronomy (1958–72), and founding director (1967–73) of the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy. In 1948 Hoyle formulated the steady-state model in collaboration with mathematician Hermann Bondi and astronomer Thomas Gold. During the 1950s he turned to research on the chemical composition of stars. In 1957 Hoyle, William Fowler, and Geoffrey and Margaret Burbridge jointly published the breakthrough paper “Synthesis of the Elements in Stars,” in which they explained how all but the lightest chemical elements were created through nuclear reactions within the interiors of stars or during stellar explosions known as supernovas. In 1983 Fowler won the Nobel Prize for Physics for this work, while a disappointed Hoyle eventually was awarded the Royal Swedish Academy of Science's Crafoord Prize (1997). Hoyle was equally well known for his other theories, including his belief that life on Earth evolved from biological material formed in outer space and that some diseases are caused by viruses that originated in space. A prolific science writer and successful popularizer of difficult scientific concepts, Hoyle also wrote several science-fiction novels, notably The Black Cloud (1957), A for Andromeda (1962), and October the First Is Too Late (1966). Hoyle was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1957 and served (1971–73) as president of the Royal Astronomical Society. He was knighted in 1972.

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▪ British astronomer
born June 24, 1915, Bingley, Yorkshire [now West Yorkshire], England
died August 20, 2001, Bournemouth, Dorset
 British mathematician and astronomer best known as the foremost proponent and defender of the steady-state theory of the universe. This theory holds both that the universe is expanding and that matter is being continuously created to keep the mean density of matter in space constant.

      Hoyle was educated at Emmanuel College and St. John's College, Cambridge, and spent six years during World War II with the British Admiralty, working on radar development. In 1945 he returned to Cambridge as a lecturer in mathematics. Three years later, in collaboration with the astronomer Thomas Gold and the mathematician Hermann Bondi, he announced the steady-state theory. Within the framework of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, Hoyle formulated a mathematical basis for the steady-state theory, making the expansion of the universe and the creation of matter interdependent.

 In the late 1950s and early '60s, controversy about the steady-state theory grew. New observations of distant galaxies and other phenomena, supporting the big-bang theory (a phrase that Hoyle had coined in derision in the 1940s), weakened the steady-state theory, and it has since fallen out of favour with most cosmologists. Although Hoyle was forced to alter some of his conclusions, he tenaciously tried to make his theory consistent with new evidence.

      Hoyle was elected to the Royal Society in 1957, a year after joining the staff of the Hale Observatories (now the Mount Wilson and Palomar observatories). In collaboration with William Fowler and others in the United States, he formulated theories about the origins of stars as well as about the origins of elements within stars. Hoyle was director of the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy at Cambridge (1967–73), an institution he was instrumental in founding. He received a knighthood in 1972.

      Hoyle is known for his popular science works, including The Nature of the Universe (1951), Astronomy and Cosmology (1975), and The Origin of the Universe and the Origin of Religion (1993). He also wrote novels, plays, short stories, and an autobiography, The Small World of Fred Hoyle (1986).

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Universalium. 2010.

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